Monday, April 15, 2013

Reconstructing Amelia Blog Tour and Review

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
review copy provided by Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours

When Kate, single mother and law firm partner, gets an urgent phone call summoning her to her daughter’s exclusive private school, she’s shocked. Amelia has been suspended for cheating, something that would be completely out of character for her over-achieving, well-behaved daughter.

Kate rushes to Grace Hall, but what she finds when she finally arrives is beyond comprehension.

Her daughter Amelia is dead.

Despondent over having been caught cheating, Amelia has jumped from the school’s roof in an act of impulsive suicide. At least that’s the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. In a state of shock and overcome by grief, Kate tries to come to grips with this life-shattering news. Then she gets an anonymous text:

Amelia didn’t jump.

The moment she sees that message, Kate knows in her heart it’s true. Clearly Amelia had secrets, and a life Kate knew nothing about. Wracked by guilt, Kate is determined to find out what those secrets were and who could have hated her daughter enough to kill. She searches through Amelia’s e-mails, texts, and Facebook updates, piecing together the last troubled days of her daughter’s life.

Reconstructing Amelia is a stunning debut page-turner that brilliantly explores the secret world of teenagers, their clandestine first loves, hidden friendships, and the dangerous cruelty that can spill over into acts of terrible betrayal.

My Take:
Reconstructing Amelia is a heart-wrenching novel detailing the lives of Amelia and her mother Kate, a high-powered lawyer at a high profile law firm. The story is told using traditional chapters as well as social media entries and diary entries. The story goes back and forth in the timeline from the day of Amelia's death and Kate's subsequent return to work and the ensuing search for answers, back to the diary entries Kate wrote in her diary from before Amelia was born and to Amelia's Facebook, Twitter, texts, etc. leading up to her death.

I found the various and numerous methods of piecing the story together through social media to be interesting and effective in providing a vivid and nuanced portrait of Amelia's life leading up to its tragic ending. By using the different social media it helps to demonstrate how different her friendships and associations were and allows the reader to get a glimpse of the varied types of communication and the numerous pressures placed on Amelia and the other teenagers in the book. The communications between the students seem to be almost continuous, often going into the wee hours of the morning.

I started reading Reconstructing Amelia and had to stop for a bit because of the whole mean girl thing. I hate mean girls - I hated them when I was in school and I hate them now that I'm a mother. I was really dreading to read what happened to Amelia, but once I started reading again, I found that I couldn't put the book down. It didn't take long before I was feeling like I had a handle on what kind of person Amelia was and I found that I really liked her - as opposed to some of her fellow students. She is a pretty typical teenager - not perfect, not really unusual, just a good kid. I liked her. I felt for her. I thought she acted like many other teenage girls would in similar situations. I don't think she made all the right decisions, but I also have a few more years under my belt and some earned wisdom as well. I thought she seemed pretty real. I also liked her mother, Kate. She isn't a perfect mother - but then, who is, really? We all just do the best we can and Kate definitely tries her best to give Amelia what she needs and to be there for her. Kate's story is pretty compelling as well.

As I struggled with how much to include in my response to the book, I decided to leave many details out -- there are many pieces to the puzzle of what exactly happened to Amelia and why. These pieces are intriguing, scary, some are common, some are unusual; but the way all the pieces fell into place as I read was really part of the enjoyment. McCreight does a great job of feeding information to the reader and then bringing more uncertainty and doubt and then more information that causes things to shift again.

Despite the sad and terrible subject matter, the way the story is woven together just really worked for me. This is definitely a page-turner. I thought it would be more difficult to read due to the subject matter, but I was pulled into the story - or stories - because I was just as interested in Kate's story as I was in Amelia's.

If you enjoy mysteries, stories about private schools, mean girls and mean moms, as well as good kids and their hard-working, well-intentioned  parents, you might enjoy Reconstructing Amelia. It is definitely one that I will be recommending.

About Kimberly McCreight

Kimberly McCreight, named one of Entertainment Weekly‘s “13 to Watch in 2013,” attended Vassar College and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After several years as a litigation associate at some of New York City’s biggest law firms, she left the practice of law to write full-time. Her work has appeared in such publications as Antietam ReviewOxford Magazine, and Babble. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and two daughters.
Find out more about Kimberly at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Kimberly’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 2nd: Bookish Habits
Thursday, April 4th: Twisting the Lens
Monday, April 8th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, April 9th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, April 10th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, April 15th: A Book Geek
Tuesday, April 16th: In the Next Room
Wednesday, April 17th: Peppermint Phd
Thursday, April 18th: nomadreader
Monday, April 22nd: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, April 24th: Speaking of Books
Thursday, April 25th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 30th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, May 1st: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, May 2nd: Short and Sweet Reviews

I received this book from the author or publisher for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine being in this mother's shoes ... what a horrible experience, but it sounds like it makes for a compelling read.

    Thanks for being on the tour.


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